GetUp! releases new files dishing the dirt on Adani

Adani's Abbot Point coal terminal.
Saturday, September 30, 2017

GetUp! has just published an updated version of The Adani Files, which it released in February. The Adani Files: New Dirt reveals the fraudulent activity of the mining giant, currently under investigation in India, where it is accused of a complex $298 million scam that cheated shareholders, tax authorities and Indian energy consumers.

Much of the material is from a special report by the Guardian published in August, which showed how Adani allegedly siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars of borrowed money into offshore tax havens. Details of the alleged ₨15 billion ($291 million) fraud are contained in an Indian customs intelligence notice obtained by the Guardian, excerpts of which were published on August 16.

Legal documents detail how Adani set up a front company in Dubai as a vehicle for purchasing equipment, before selling it back to themselves at massively inflated prices. They then used a complex money trail to hide the profits in a tax haven.

A significant amount of the money was provided by Indian taxpayers. The over-pricing of equipment used to supply electricity also led to increased power prices for Indian consumers. 

Alarm bells

This should ring alarm bells for the federal government. An application by Adani to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) for a $1 billion loan to develop a rail link from the proposed Carmichael Mine in the Galilee Basin to the Adani-owned port at Abbot Point is under consideration.

NAIF has been strongly criticised by governance experts for lacking transparency and accountability. The NAIF board is riddled with conflicts of interest. More than half the board have close ties to the mining industry and at least one is facing allegations they could directly benefit from Adani's mine going ahead.

GetUp! concluded that “given the serious concerns around governance of the NAIF, and Adani's ongoing investigation for massive taxpayer fraud, the government should immediately rule out any taxpayer funding for Adani.”

The Adani Files also draws parallels between a sweetheart deal that enabled Adani to rip off fishing communities in Kerala State to similar prospects in Queensland. 

“Courts are investigating how Adani managed to cut a deal to reap all the revenue from a new seaport at Vizhinjam for up to 60 years, even though the state government of Kerala put up most of the money to build it.”

“It is alleged Adani could pull in an extra ₨61,095 crore (1 crore equals 10 million, so $12 billion) from the special arrangements — while the state of Kerala gets nothing. In addition, Adani can charge fisherman to use the facilities in the fishing harbour, which are being built with state government funds.”

Queensland deals

In Queensland Adani has been given free and unlimited access to groundwater, which will severely impact the local agricultural sector. The Labor government has also granted Adani a deferrment of royalties for coal exports.

A key figure in brokering this deal was an Adani lobbyist and former Labor official who is now “volunteering” at ALP Headquarters for the upcoming state election campaign. It has been estimated that lost royalties under this deferral arrangement could amount to $320 million.

The report noted: “When Prime Minister Turnbull visited Adani CEO Gautam Adani in April, he promised he would 'fix' Australian Native Title law to override the rights of the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners and ease the passage of Adani's mine. The Native Title legislation was changed in Adani's favour in June.

“The willingness of state and federal governments to make Adani exempt from rules, and change laws to their benefit, is a serious concern for our democracy.”

Disregard for environment

Adani has a track record in India of complete disregard for environmental conservation and worker safety. Before construction of the Carmichael mine has even begun, Adani has already demonstrated that it will continue in its grand tradition, in spite of any environmental constraints that may be imposed.

In March, Adani breached its licence at the Abbot Point coal terminal by releasing coal-laden water into the ocean.

Just before Cyclone Debbie hit Queensland, Adani scrambled for a special licence allowing it to pollute well above normal limits during severe weather. Yet, even with a special licence to pollute, it was revealed that Adani discharged wastewater that exceeded their pollution licence by 800%.

For this significant breach, Adani was fined a meagre $12,900, but it is still challenging the fine in court.

That paltry fine will not deter Adani from breaking environmental regulations in the future. Its decision to challenge the meagre fine demonstrates its contempt for Australia's environmental laws.

The Adani project has the support of both Labor and LNP in Queensland and the Coalition in the federal parliament. The Labor federal opposition has given no indication that it differs from its Queensland counterparts and, when challenged, has adopted a Pontius Pilate approach.

This is in stark contrast to the community opposition to the mega mine. This opposition will be on show at the Stop Adani Day of Action on October 7.

In the lead up to the Day of Action, two programs are worth viewing on ABC TV: Four Corners on Monday October 2 at 8.30pm will be an in depth investigation of Adani and Catalyst on Tuesday October 3 will screen Can we save the reef?.

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